Dance takes first in dual against Ottawa

Story by Megan Henry

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A remix of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” filled Collins Center Monday night as seven Baker University dancers performed a two-minute routine in a dual against Ottawa. Scoring a 99.7 out of 120, the Wildcats defeated the Braves by nearly 20 points, clinching a 99.7 to 81.7 home win.

The dual served as the team’s fourth competition before the NAIA South Regional Qualifier in Oklahoma City this Friday, Feb. 19. Junior Kaitlyn Stout recognizes the difficulties of performing with a small squad, however, believes the technical skills each member possesses makes up for the small size.

“I think that we do a really good job of supporting everyone’s strengths,” Stout said. “If you have a team of 20 girls you can highlight five or six really good girls, but we only have seven, so all seven of us have to be on top of our game all the time.”

Junior Michaela Jamison elaborated, “I think it’s cool because there’s only seven of us but we compete against teams with 15 plus girls and look way better,” she said. “It’s really awesome that with seven girls, seven very technical girls, we can compete with 20 people teams and beat them because we have stronger people across the board rather than just watching the three people in the front that are super good.”

Since November, the dancers have been practicing Monday night’s routine and have performed the same dance for halftime shows at basketball games and high school recruiting events. All in hopes that the changes they’ve made along the way will be perfected in time for regionals.

“We’re learning what’s working, what’s hitting, what’s not. What’s visually appealing, what’s not,” Jamison said. “We’re making those kinds of changes now before regionals. If we can make the changes and have them in place for regionals then nationals should go way more smoothly.”

Each of the dancers has training backgrounds in studio dance or high school competition. Stout believes the team is prepared for regionals, but a challenge will be working through muscle memory.

“By making changes this week we really have to practice hard or else it’s not going to hit,” Stout said. “Our bodies are so used to doing it one way, then we change it and have to adjust.”

NAIA dance competitions are judged based on requirements in categories such as a team turn, team turn sequence, and a team leap. Each team must also incorporate 30 seconds of jazz, pom and hip-hop dances individually. In addition they must do so within a time frame of approximately two minutes. Judges also consider uniformity, difficulty and choreography, while deductions can result from minor and major falls, rule infractions and time-limit violations.

If the Wildcats compete well in the regional qualifier then they will travel to the NAIA National Invitational in Davenport, Iowa, March 11-12. Both dance and cheer teams will be competing in the approaching regional competition.

“I think we’ll be really good this season,” Jamison said. “I think once we get regionals done with, nationals is going to be great. I’m pretty pumped about it.”

Dance takes first in dual against Ottawa